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Author Topic: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips  (Read 418 times)

Offline little john

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Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« on: May 16, 2018, 05:19:52 am »
As some of you know, I'm currently investigating the possibly of using all-round starter-strips with foundationless frames - with the aim of improving side adhesion and (hopefully) encouraging adhesion to the bottom bar as well - with a long-term view towards dispensing with comb support altogether.

But - I don't have any full-sized frames needing to be drawn-out right now, and so I'm running some initial trials using much smaller mating-nuc frames.

So, this a 'before' shot:




And this is after the bees have 'done their thing': 






Those combs are not completely finished yet (obviously), but already I can see that the strips are being treated as if it they were part of the woodwork itself - perhaps they're still too thick despite my best attempts to produce the thinnest strip possible, so on the next batch I'll try cutting the existing strip heights down (to reduce them to a short stub) and see if that improves acceptance.

But - so far, so good - I'm not entirely displeased with the above for a first run - but there's still plenty of room there for improvement ...
LJ
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2018, 06:27:52 am »
LJ,
Looks like it is working. Why is it the top strip is very small, as is normally used and the sides and bottom are one inch wide.
How thin do you want them? Do you have a planer. My planers can make a on eighth inch thick strip. I can get it thinner by putting a board under the strip being planed. You can also get thin strips with a bandsaw. If you only have a table saw, make a gig to go under the boards being cut so that they do not drop in the slot in the table saw.
Jim
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2018, 06:49:45 am »
I was going to make a bunch of them up and ship them to you. I checked how much it would cost to send a 5 pound and then a 2 pound package. As you can see below, it is outrageously high. $185 for 5 pounds and $125 for 2 pounds which would bee very few strips.
[ You are not allowed to view attachments ]
Jim
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Offline little john

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2018, 08:16:48 am »
You've got good eyes, Jim !  The upper strip is a popsicle stick glued into a groove - I fitted those when I first made a bunch of those frames.

The side and bottom starters are 'cast-in-position wax starters' -  (https://beemaster.com/forum/index.php?topic=51183.0) - which I added afterwards - and it's those I tried to get as thin as possible.  I'd assumed/hoped that the bees would chew-off whatever of that wax offended them - but it appears that doesn't automatically happen.

A kind thought about shipping some strips across - thanks.  (naughty prices ...)

I wish the bloke who I'd bought my Einheil Table Saw from had read your words: "If you only have a table saw, make a jig to go under the boards being cut so that they do not drop in the slot in the table saw." - 'cause that's exactly what must have happened to him - a thin piece fell down and entered a slot in the motor housing (bit of a design-fault there, methinks) and took out half of the motor's plastic cooling-fan blades.  I only found that out when I got fed-up with the constant vibration (which was obviously being caused by the motor being out-of-balance) and decided to investigate.

'best
LJ
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2018, 09:10:47 am »
I think your are trying to fight mother nature.  Just put in a top bar and let them draw it to the box.  Take it out and trim the comb so you can add the end bars and bottom bar.  Then they will attach the comb to the bars.
You could get scientific and measure what size shim is needed  on the box sides so you don't have to waste so much comb trimming.  Likewise a shim on the top of the bars below.  Use a hot wire or a heated uncapping knife to trim the comb so you can keep it vertical.
Brian Cardinal
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Offline little john

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2018, 10:02:15 am »
Brian - that's a good idea - providing the comb drawn on the Top Bar is drawn reasonably straight - but you'd still be working with very soft new comb.

Jim's post has reminded me that in the days before foundation, the use of wooden all-round starters (usually wedge-shaped) was a common practice.  So that might also be worth trying, only using waxed popsicle sticks instead.

Interesting how one idea spawns another ... it's just occurred to me that foundationless comb support is normally considered to be a permanent feature - whereas it really doesn't need to be.  It's only required when the comb is initially being drawn out, is still soft and flexible, and has no side-adhesions to help support it.  Once that comb has been fully drawn-out and has a season's use behind it - any support in place has become redundant.

Removable comb support ?  I feel an idea coming on ...   :smile:
LJ
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Offline moebees

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2018, 11:05:37 am »
I had a hive blow over a couple of weeks ago and some of the foundationless comb got distorted at a slight angle.  The bees began extending the comb beyond the bottom bars.  I just pushed it back into place and smooshed the comb into the bottom bars.  I haven't been back to see what they have done since but that might be a way to get them to draw comb that could be attached to the bottom bar.  Kind of a pain in the ass I think but you seem to really want the comb attached to the bottom bars.
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Offline Acebird

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2018, 03:46:16 pm »
but you'd still be working with very soft new comb.
Agreed no different than a frame with end bars and bottom bar because the bees will not attach it.  I don't know what luck you will have with the bees not adding brood or honey to the cells before you can trim it.  You probably will have to deal with that.
Brian Cardinal
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Offline little john

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #8 on: May 26, 2018, 04:54:59 pm »
Still working on this ...

These are a pair of 'young' combs I pulled earlier today, which had been installed in the brood nest of a 10-frame nuc housed within a single-story Long Hive, the frames having cut-down wax starters (3-4 mm):



As you can see, there's far more side attachment in the central area, and the combs are less well drawn-out at the bottom extremities - that suggests to me that the temperature wasn't optimum when they were drawn ... so I'll put the next lot in the upper box of a vertical nuc stack where conditions should be more favourable.  It'll be interesting to compare what results.
LJ
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Offline cao

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #9 on: May 27, 2018, 12:42:51 am »
What's interesting to me is that there is more side attachment on the inside 2 sides.  If you ignore the middle spacer, the shape of the comb almost looks like the shame of a naturally drawn comb.  I wonder if you swapped the mini frames left and right, would they attach the sides more on what would be the middle of the comb?

Offline little john

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #10 on: May 27, 2018, 06:21:13 am »
What's interesting to me is that there is more side attachment on the inside 2 sides.  If you ignore the middle spacer, the shape of the comb almost looks like the shame of a naturally drawn comb.  I wonder if you swapped the mini frames left and right, would they attach the sides more on what would be the middle of the comb?

Absolutely right - but why is natural comb the shape it is - i.e. deeper toward the centre (UK spelling ...) and less so at the sides ?  Presumably because that shape reflects the chains of bees which are formed in order for the bees to work their wax-magic ...

In this case there would (presumably) have been two separate chains - one on each side of the divider - so I'm guessing that temperature has played a role here ... but needless to say, I could be hopelessly wrong of course.  :smile:
But yes, I'll swap them over and see what happens next.
LJ
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Offline little john

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #11 on: May 27, 2018, 08:35:09 am »
This really is curious - I've just pulled some more, and this one is an even better example - but they're all very similar:



So I've reversed just those two pairs of mini-frames:



... and will wait to see what happens.
LJ
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Offline sawdstmakr

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #12 on: May 27, 2018, 08:45:57 am »
That is really interesting. Like you said, it has to do with the way the bees cluster. They have to heat the wax in order to work it and the out side edge is cooler than the middle section.
Jim
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Offline beepro

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #13 on: May 29, 2018, 08:28:56 pm »
"....I'm currently investigating the possibly of using all-round starter-strips with foundationless frames - with the aim of improving side adhesion and...."

The bees will leave a small gap to get to the other side of the comb as this is their preference for better communication and efficiency.  During the swarm season around the time of the flow when they are ready to make more drones, they will fill in these gaps with drone cells.   A 2nd season hive will be likely to fill in these gaps than a first year new nuc hive.  Whether or not it is a new nuc or 2nd season hive they will leave these gaps open, some on the sides and some on the bottom of the comb until needed.  They rather swarm than filling in these side gaps in their first season. 

After the drone cells are made they will leave it in tact.  I take advantage of this little bee secret and put all the first season drawn frames with the gap for them to fill in the drone cells.   Now my frames are completely fill up because they needed these drone cells.  I don't want them to rework the worker comb into the drone cells. 
« Last Edit: May 30, 2018, 04:37:06 am by beepro »

Offline little john

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #14 on: May 30, 2018, 02:19:36 am »
You appear to have missed the point completely:  we're talking about the shape of those combs which, when taken together, approximates to the ellipsoid shape of a single comb - despite there being a huge obstruction present within the central area.  This suggests that the shape of embryonic combs is not only determined by the chains of bees which are formed during comb-building - but also that temperature (which will be higher towards the central area) also plays a role.  That side adhesions are more pronounced towards the centre would therefore also suggest that such adhesions may be temperature-related.
LJ
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Online Bush_84

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #15 on: May 31, 2018, 01:03:52 am »
I seem to recall hearing once that if you cut or pinch off the bottom or sides that aren?t connected, the bees will view it as broken comb. They will want to repair it and possibly connect it better. I have never done this. I?ll be honest that I had long forgotten that until I read this topic. Anybody care to confirm this?  Might be another easy way.
Keeping bees since 2011.

Also please excuse the typos.  My iPad autocorrect can be brutal.

Offline little john

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Re: Foundationless: all-round wax starter-strips
« Reply #16 on: May 31, 2018, 04:54:23 pm »
A quick update ...

I've been putting the partly-drawn mating nuc frames (especially those with the wide all-round starter strips) into mating nuc boxes above a strong queenright colony - in order that they can be held somewhere while I get the remainder drawn-out (in pairs), and at the same time this provides an opportunity for any existing brood on those combs to emerge.
Being above a strong colony, the temperature in those mating-nuc boxes will be higher than in the single-story hives in which those combs were initially drawn-out, and so this is typical of what has now resulted:



As you can see, the side adhesions are much improved and there's also now attachment at the bottom - and so I'm now even more convinced that temperature is playing a key role here.

However, this also suggests that there are competing dynamics present: in order to get foundationless combs well drawn-out, it's desirable to have a reasonably high temperature within the immediate comb drawing area - BUT - the only way such a temperature is guaranteed (bearing in mind we're talking Britain, not Florida) is above a strong colony, and at this time of the year a strong colony will draw drone comb instead of worker comb.
So - we need a small colony to ensure worker comb is drawn, yet a big colony to provide the heat for this ...  Hah.

It's looking like the next step will be to house a relatively small nucleus colony in a nuc stack and supply it with artificial heat such that the temperature in the top box (where comb-drawing will take place) will be up in the 90's Fahrenheit.

Will keep you posted.
LJ
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